MUSIC TASTES GOOD - Sunday Only 9/25

Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso was not meant to be a band. Rather, Amelia Meath had written a song called "Play It Right" and sung it with her trio Mountain Man. She'd met Nick Sanborn, an electronic producer working under the name Made of Oak, in passing on a shared bill in a small club somewhere. She asked him to scramble it, to render her work his way. He did the obligatory remix, but he sensed that there was something more important here than a one-time handoff: Of all the songs Sanborn had ever recast, this was the first time he felt he'd added to the raw material without subtracting from it, as though, across the unseen wires of online file exchange, he'd found his new collaborator without even looking.

Meath felt it, too. Schedules aligned. Moves were made. And as 2012 slipped into 2013, Sanborn and Meath reconvened in the unlikely artistic hub of Durham, N.C., a former manufacturing town with cheap rent and good food. Sylvan Esso became a band. A year later, their self-titled debut—a collection of vivid addictions concerning suffering and love, darkness and deliverance—arrives as a necessary pop balm, an album stuffed with songs that don't suffer the longstanding complications of that term.

These 10 tunes were realized and recorded in Sanborn's Durham bedroom during the last year, an impressive feat considering the layers of activity and effects that populate them—the dizzyingly crisscrossed harmonies of "Play it Right," the gorgeously incongruous elements of "Wolf," the surreptitiously minimalist momentum of "HSKT." Sanborn's production is fully modern and wonderfully active. He enlists obliterating dubstep stutters and crisp electropop pulses, hazy electrostatic breezes and epinephrine dancefloor turnarounds.

But this isn't a workout in production skills or a demonstration of electronic erudition. Instead, his music syncs seamlessly with Meath's melodies, so that the respective words and beats become a string of ready-to-play singles. The irrepressible "Hey Mami" webs handclaps and harmonies around a flood of bass, a strangely perfect canvas for a tale of dudes hollering at neighborhood tail (and, finally, finding the chivalry not to do so). "Coffee" sparkles and quakes, patiently rising from a muted spell of seasonal affective disorder to a sweet rupture of schoolyard glee. These pop cuts condescend neither to their audience nor their makers. They are sophisticated, but with none of the arrogance that can imply; they are addictive, but with none of the banality that can entail. There is sensuality and sexual depravity, homesickness and wanderlust, nostalgia and immediacy. Sylvan Esso acknowledges that the world is a tumult of complications by giving you a way to sing and dance with those troubles, if not to will them away altogether.
When Meath and Sanborn talk about Sylvan Esso, they come back to context—to how, before this project, they felt that their solo endeavors often felt short of it, as if they were lacking a crucial component. That is no longer a concern. When Meath sings to Sanborn a melody that she's conjured and captured, he almost instinctively knows how to respond. And when he delivers to her the backbone of a wordless beat, she adds lyrical bait where he'd only seen white space. Sylvan Esso represents the fulfillment of their fortuitous encounter by, once again, linking parts that too often come stripped of their counterparts. Here, motion comes with melody. Words come with ideas. And above all, pop comes back with candor.

In 1987, a trio known as De La Soul formed from Long Island, NY roots and changed the landscape of hip-hop as we knew it. Now, for over 20 years they have rocked us with their De La songs full of inscrutable samplings, whimsically irreverent lyrics, social commentary, light rhythm and laid back rhymes. They have gained respect within and outside the hip hop community with their contributions to rap, as well as jazz, funk, soul and alternative genres. Not only are their musical innovations acclaimed and respected worldwide, but they paved a path for many alternative rap groups to come after them.

De La Soul formed while the trio – Kelvin Mercer (Posdnous, Plug One, Plug Wonder Why, Mercenary), David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove, Plug Two, Dave), and Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase,Plug Three, Maseo) – attended high school in the late 1980's. As a group their stage names reflected the same whimsy they brought to their rhymes. Through backward spelling of Mercer's nickname as a high school DJ "Sound-Sop" became Posdnous and Trugoy was derived from Jolicoeur's favorite food –yogurt. Mason noted in an early interview that Pasemaster was the DJ and Mase wasn't simply a nickname, but an acronym for "Making A Soul Effort".
The group soon caught the attention of producer Paul "Prince Paul" Huston (of local rap group Stetsasonic) with a demo tape of the song "Plug Tunin'". He played the tape colleagues on New York's rap scene, and soon De La Soul signed with Tommy Boy.

3 Feet High and Rising
De La Soul and Prince Paul produced the group's debut album, a mock-game show soundtrack titled 3 Feet High and Rising (released spring 1989). The release was an undeniable smash hit and was quickly hailed as the future of hip hop. The album sounded like nothing else in hip-hop and presented a clear alternative to the hardcore rap that was dominating hip hop at the time. 3 Feet High and Rising was a package of clever rhymes laced with cleverly inventive eccentricities and quirks. Where most of their contemporaries drew directly from old-school rap, funk, or powerful barrage of groups like Public Enemy, De La Soul were gentler, taking in not only funk and soul, but also pop, jazz, reggae, and psychedelia.


The album featured a collage of samples that were taken not from the usual James Brown rhythm tracks but from TV shows and obscure recordings, many from De La Soul's parents' collections. "Transmitting Live from Mars" set a sample from a French lesson record atop a sample from the 1968 Turtles hit "You Showed Me." The hit single "Me Myself and I" which was set to a sample of Funkadelic's 1979 "(not just) Knee Deep" reached Number 34 on Pop charts and reached Number 1 in R&B, further cementing the group's popularity.
The members of De La Soul were hailed by critics and audiences as ingenious revolutionaries, but also uncomfortably labeled as a neo-hippie band because the record proclaimed the dawning of "the D.A.I.S.Y. age" (Da Inner Sound, Y'all). Lyrically, much of 3 Feet High and Rising praised peace and harmony — a message that was fading from the rap scene. However, the hippie label agitated the group, as they always envisioned their career as a constantly changing style. Nevertheless, The Three Feet High and Rising album reached number 24 on the pop charts, number one on R&B, and went gold. At the end of the year, 3 Feet High and Rising topped many best-of-the-year lists.
They quickly became prominent members of a loose alliance of New York-based alternative rappers dubbed the Native Tongues Posse which also included A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, the Jungle Brothers, and Monie Love. For a while, it looked as if De La Soul and the Native Tongues posse would eclipse hardcore hip-hop in terms of popularity.

De La Soul is Dead
De La Soul's second album, De La Soul Is Dead (1991) was an obvious reaction to the perception that its debut, however innovative, was "soft." It featured a wealth of material that criticized the new violently careless direction of hip hop while still exuding the same clever humor featured on the group's debut album. The album cover features a broken daisy flower pot symbolizing the death of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" and the imagery that went along with it. The album spawned several singles with more serious tones like "My Brother's a Basehead" commentary on drug abuse, the dark tale of "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa" about young girl who could no longer take the incestuous sexual abuse from her father, and the lead single "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)," a story about the varied people who used De La's recent fame to try and launch their own careers. De La collaborated with the Black Sheep on "Fanatic of the B Word," Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest on "A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays"", and Prince Paul even makes an appearance on the mic in "Pass the Plugs" with a verse of his own. The album also more prominently featured Vincent Mason as a rapper, providing verses of his own on "Bitties in the BK Lounge," "Afro Connections at a Hi-5," and "Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)."
De La Soul is Dead eventually became a cult classic and was recognized as being underrated and underappreciated by an increasingly fickle public. "Source" magazine listed the album as one of their top 100 Hip Hop albums of all time, stating that "its true genius is rarely understood". There are several major differences between the CD version of this album and the other formats, as the tracks "Johnny's Dead AKA Vincent Mason," "My Brother's a Basehead," "Kicked Out the House," and "Who Do U Worship?" are only available on the CD. The limited edition double vinyl promotional copies of the album distributed to the media before the official release did not feature these.

Buhloone Mindstate
De La Soul came back strong in late 1993, however, with Buhloone Mindstate (Number 40 pop, Number Nine R&B), hailed as a return to the group's quirky, groundbreaking form. While harder and funkier than either of its predecessors, this album still didn't fall into the traps of gangsta rap. The single "Breakadawn" broke the R&B Top 40.
1993's Buhloone Mindstate saw the group evolve a new sound and cemented their position as mainstays of the alternative hip hop movement. There were several moments on the album which proved the band had matured. "I Be Blowin'" was a departure as the track was an instrumental featuring saxophone playing by the legendary Maceo Parker. The introspective "I Am I Be" showed De La at their most self referential to date with subject matter about Pos' daughter, Ayana Monet, as well as his grandmother. "Long Island Wildin'" was a collaboration with Japanese hip-hop artists Kan Takagi (Major Force) and trio Scha Dara Parr (SDP). The album's first single, "Breakadawn," used a sample of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It" and Smokey Robinson's "Quiet Storm". De La Soul collaborated for the first time with Gang Starr's Guru on "Patti Dooke." Female MC Shortie No Mas, a cousin of Posdnuos, was prominent on many tracks on the album, showcased particularly "In The Woods." The album ended with a fun old school Biz Markie collaboration called "Stone Age." Missing from vocal duties is Mase, whose voice can only be heard on "Area" in a break near the end of the track. Also rarely featured is his scratching which was heard often on previous albums, with only "In the Woods" showcasing his talent in that area. Many publications, such as Rolling Stone, have listed this album as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time.

Stakes Is High
The summer of 1996 yielded a more conventional effort by De La Soul with the release of the album Stakes Is High. The project generated three singles — "The Bizness" (Number 53 R&B), "Stakes Is High" (Number 70 R&B), and "Itsoweezee (Hot)" (Number 60 R&B).This was the group's first album not produced with Prince Paul, with overall production credits given solely to the trio. The album's second single, "Itsoweezee (HOT)," with only Dave on vocals, did well due to its creative music video. The album spawned a third single "4 More," featuring Zhane which peaked at #52 in the UK. The album also served as a launching pad for the future star rapper and actor Mos Def, who appeared on the track "Big Brother Beat." The album featured collaborations with Common, Truth Enola, and the Jazzyfatnastees.

Art Official Intelligence
Years later, De La Soul announced that they would release a triple album series entitled "Art Official Intelligence" (or AOI). The first installment, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump, was released in 2000. This album was greeted warmly by record buyers, debuting in the Top Ten and reaching number 9 on the pop charts and number 3 for R&B Guest artists include Chaka Khan, the Beastie Boys, Busta Rhymes, and Redman.
The next year, the group followed up with a second installment of the series, AOI: Bionix, but the third part has yet to surface. AOI: Bionix, even featured a video hit with "Baby Phat," but Tommy Boy and the trio decided to end their relationship soon after putting a hold on the end of the series. Fans are still anxiously anticipation the final installment of Art Official Intelligence.

The Grind Date
In 2004, De La Soul released a new full album: The Grind Date on Sanctuary/BMG Records (run by Beyoncé's father, Mathew Knowles). The album's lead single was "Shopping Bags (She Got from You)." Although it was not the third AOI album fans had been expecting, the album was released to some critical acclaim and was well-received by most fans. The album features guests MF Doom, Ghostface Killah, Butta Verses and Flavor Flav, with production from 9th Wonder, Jake One, Madlib and more.
Impossible: Mission
The following year, De La Soul returned with a self-released mixtape, Impossible Mission: TV Series, Pt. 1, on which Posdnuos announced the mission statement in a track called "Freedom Train:" "No longer backed by record companies but back by popular demand."

Are You In?
In 2006, De La Soul collaborated with Nike, to produce two versions of the Nike Dunk under their skateboarding division, Nike SB. The sneakers were an instant hit, and sold out at most retail stores that stocked them
In 2009, De La Soul and Nike continued their relationship with the release of "Are You In?": Nike+ Original Run, which was the group's first original material since The Impossible: Mission TV Series - Pt. 1. The album features Raheem DeVaughn as well as production from the Chicago based duo Flosstradamus. The recording is a single-track recording at 44 minutes, 17 seconds and was made available, exclusively, through iTunes. It is part of a continuing series of releases through the "Nike+ Sport Music" section of the online store.
Group member Posdnuos said to ClashMusic.com of Are You In?, "It had to feel like a De La album that wasn't just a poster for Nike – we wanted people to feel it was a great album on its own terms. We always think things through and put quality into anything we do – we never look to just take the cheque and run."

Other Notable Career Moves
In 1993, De La Soul performed together with alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub for the soundtrack of Judgment Night, on a track called "Fallin'".
In 1994, 500 copies of a promotional EP called Clear Lake Audiotorium were released on clear vinyl and CD. The 6 track EP contained edited versions of tracks off of Buhloone Mindstate but also featured the tracks "Sh.Fe.MC's" (Shocking Female MC's) which was a collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest, and "Stix & Stonz" which featured old-school hip hop artists Grandmaster Caz, Tito of Fearless Four, Whipper Whip, LA Sunshine and Superstar. The EP was widely bootlegged afterwards.


In 2000, the songs "Area" and "Keepin' the Faith" were featured in the movie Boiler Room.
In 2002, the song "Oodles of O's" was featured on the soundtrack for Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4.
In 2002, De La Soul was featured in the film Brown Sugar.
In 2005, De La Soul collaborated with Gorillaz on the hit single "Feel Good Inc.", which won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration after being nominated for a total of three Grammys. De La Soul also appeared on the LA Symphony single "Universal" and Posdnuos collaborated with the Portuguese MC Boss AC on a track called "Yo (Não Brinques Com Esta Merda)" (which translates to "Don't Play with This Shit").
In 2008, the group joined A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, The Pharcyde and others on the annual Rock The Bells tour.
De La Soul were honorees at the 5th Annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors on October 6, 2008.

With sold out debuts in Los Angeles and New York City, Gallant's unparalleled voice has captured the attention of tastemakers in the past month. Spending years to find his voice and artistry, his emergence is a testament to his tireless dedication to a unique vision and sound. With a sound described as future soul, his music bridges contemporary productions with old school songwriting and talents.

2015 has already been a stellar year for Gallant with publications like Billboard and NME labeling him as the "breakthrough artist of 2015" and "the voice that will redefine R&B." His latest song, "Weight in Gold," amplifies the momentum, handpicked as Zane Lowe's 'World's First' on the highly anticipated Beats 1 radio show.

Showcasing sultry vocals with a beautiful blues instrumental, the newest ballad is the esteemed curator's choice as potentially the next breakout star in music, drawing comparisons to the great vocalists of our time. Coverage from publications like Fader and Entertainment Weekly catapulted the song into a trending topic on Twitter as the public's reaction was equally vociferous in their support for the standout Los Angeles artist.

From the same record label Mind of a Genius that also broke last year's Grammy-nominated darling ZHU (with whom a collaboration is in the works), Gallant is establishing himself as the artist to watch for the remainder of the year. From the stunning ' Open Up' to "Talking In Your Sleep" , he shows no signs of stopping his output of brilliant works yet.

Las Cafeteras

Born in the streets of Los Angeles, Las Cafeteras are children of immigrants who are remixing roots music and telling modern day stories with what LA Timeshas called a “uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock … Live, they’re magnetic.”

Las Cafeteras have taken the music scene by storm with their infectious live performances and have crossed-genre and musical borders, playing with bands such as Mexican icons Caifanes, Lila Downs, Colombian superstar Juanes, Los Angeles legends Ozomatli, folk/indie favorites Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and most recently with Talib Kweli.

The sound of Las Cafeteras is brought to life by the eclectic instrumentation used, which include jarana’s, requinto, a donkey jawbone, a West African bass instrument called the Marimbol, cajón, and a wooden platform called the Tarima used to dance Zapateado.

TO MAKE A LONG STORY LONGER …

Las Cafeteras formed as a band in 2008 with the purpose of documenting the histories of their neighborhoods through music. As musicians, they started as students of the Eastside Café, a Zapatista inspired community space in East Los Angeles where they were influenced by the culture, storytelling, and poetic music of Son Jarocho, a traditional music from Veracruz, Mexico.

Their namesake derives from the organization where they took classes, the Eastside Café. However, to honor women and challenge masculine language, they feminized their group name by calling themselves, Las Cafeteras, rather than Los Cafeteros.

Their debut studio album “It’s Time” has received great reviews across the country and has featured on BBC, NPR, KCRW & the LA Times.

Christian Scott

Christian Scott, also known as Christian aTunde Adjuah (born March 31, 1983, in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a two-time Edison Award winning (2010 and 2012), Grammy Award nominated jazz trumpeter, composer and producer. Scott's Grammy nominated international recording debut, Rewind That was called "arguably the most remarkable premiere the genre has seen in the last decade" by Billboard Magazine, earning Scott two prominent features on their cover and inclusion in their list of "Ones to Watch in 2006".

Since 2002 Scott has released seven critically acclaimed studio recordings and two live albums. According to NPR, "Christian Scott ushers in new era of jazz". He has been heralded by JazzTimes magazine as "the Architect of a new commercially viable fusion" and "Jazz's young style God." Scott is known for developing the harmonic convention known as the "forecasting cell" and for his use of an un-voiced tone in his playing, emphasizing breath over vibration at the mouthpiece, widely referred to as his "whisper technique." Scott is also widely recognized as one of the progenitors of "Stretch Music," a jazz rooted, genre blind musical form that attempts to "stretch" jazz's rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms, languages and cultures as possible.

Through his partnership with Adam's Instruments Scott's signature line of horns, the Siren Trumpet, Sirenette and Reverse Flugelhorn, are revolutionizing brass instrument design all over the world.

One of Scott's next projects includes scoring award winning writer-director and Spike Lee protégé Kiel Adrian Scott's feature film debut, Epilogue. Kiel also is Scott's identical twin brother and is the muse for songs in his name on two recordings, Rewind That andChristian aTunde Adjuah.

Since 2006 Scott has worked with McCoy Tyner, Prince, Marcus Miller, Eddie Palmieri, Mos Def (Yasin Bey) and Thom Yorke, among other notable talents.

Scott is a member of New Orleans' first family of culture, nephew of Saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. and the grandson of the legendary Big Chief, Donald Harrison Sr. The only man to be Chief of four Black Indian tribes of New Orleans. Scott is half the inspiration for HBO's Tremé series character Delmond Lambreaux. Lambreaux, is a hybrid of both Harrison Jr. and Scott. The show borrowed the name, Guardians of the Flame, from the Black Indian tribe Scott began "masking" as a member of with his grandfather in 1989.

Scott is also dedicated to a number of causes that positively impact communities. He gives his time and talents to a number of organizations which garnered him a place in Ebony Magazine's 30 Young Leaders Under 30. His family's not for profit organization, Guardians Institute, located in New Orleans is dedicated to reading and fiscal literacy, cultural retention and a firm commitment to the participation of community elders and artists in uplifting and supporting the youth in underserved areas of New Orleans. Scott's has been in the forefront of youth programming and has given private lessons, spearheaded book give-a-ways, raised funds and purchased musical instruments in support of Guardians Institute. Since its post Hurricane Katrina founding in 2006, Guardians Institute has purchased and distributed over 44,000 brand new, hard cover books to the children of New Orleans.

Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

Will Wadsworth formed The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers in the winter of 2010 following a failed relationship, a band dissolution and a scary airplane ride. In order to respark his interest in music, he and his roommate, Jeremy Horton, gathered friends together to sing old Gospel songs. They sang songs inspired by their love of Washington Phillips, The Staples Singers, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe – you know, the real classics – and held house parties just so they could perform. Soon enough, a large, shifting group of people came each week to join in on the weekly jams. There could be anything from 8 to 18 participants, depending upon the night. Wadsworth and Horton, realizing this might work in a club setting, pared down the group to core members, and they began performing around Los Angeles. In 2014, they recorded their first album with Matt Wignall (Cold War Kids, J. Roddy Walston and the Business). Heavenly Fire is an explosive barn-burner, taught with electricity and highlighting Kim Garcia's remarkable singing. It provides an articulation of their sound, honed over those many group parties, into a band that has become a rousing celebration of traditional Gospel sounds with rock foundations.

Solo & Indrė

Senegalese kora player, Solo Cissokho, and Lithuanian kanklės player, Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė, release their debut album. This is the first time these two instruments have been recorded together. It’s a fascinating meeting of traditional music cultures and sounds.
Senegalese musician Solo Cissokho plays kora, a string instrument from West Africa, and performs vocal parts. He is a griot – a special performer, storyteller and praise singer who transmits his African heritage through music. IndrėJurgelevičiūtė is a Lithuanian singer and kanklės (Baltic psaltery) player. She combines her native music roots with improvisations in different styles, taking the traditional kanklės sound in new directions.

Senegalese and Lithuanian folk melodies merge with spontaneous improvisations to create a mesmerising flow of acoustic music. The interlinking patterns of the kora and kanklės form a capturing narrative, as Solo and Indrė combine the warmth and playfulness of the southern hemisphere with the melancholy and peacefulness of the north. The combination of these two contrasting traditions offers quite a spectacular musical landscape in which their ancient stories share similar subjects such as nature and human connection and magic in everyday life.
The track “Damma – Gervė” has already won World Music Network’s Battle of the Bands competition. The albums is being played on the radio broadcasts in Belgium, Germany, USA, Lithuania, Senegal, Sweden, UK, Spain.

Being pregnant doesn't sound like much fun. You get huge, everything hurts, it's hard to walk upstairs, and you can't drink gin. I don't even want to go into the whole giving birth thing, because that seems like a real struggle. However, Pregnant is a pretty good band name. Daniel Trudeau makes mutant pop sound-collages using samples, his vocals, and his own instrumentation. Every track I've heard sounds completely different so don't expect what's below to reflect his output, though it is my personal favorite. The Liquidation on Swans tape is out on Life's Blood now and forthcoming is the Ike Wimin 12" on KDVS Recordings. Pregnant - "Liquidation on Swans" - VICE

Bootleg Orchestra

Born in 2015, multi-instrumentalist/producer Menchie Caliboso and vocalist Vanessa Acosta founded Bootleg Orchestra, a neo-soul/electronica group inspired by social progressive movements. Recently, the group has welcomed Marley Balin (vocalist), Ben Florio (pianist), Paul Beville (bassist), and Felipe Guzman (drummer).

Bootleg Orchestra debut their self-titled EP in May 2015. With the production work of Menchie Caliboso and former co-producer Chris Walker, layered with the militant vocals of Vanessa Acosta, the EP culminated into an eclectic compilation of their creative capacity in soul, electronica, jazz and rock music. In February 2016, Bootleg Orchestra released their love song "Feels Like Whoa". In the last year since they've debut their EP, Bootleg Orchestra has shared the stage with Free The Robots, Tiffany Gouche, Jungle Fire, and Avi Buffalo.

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